Yemen: When conflict comes with disaster or disease, cash assistance can save lives.
In the village of Khanfar, in Yemen’s Abyan governorate, 62-year-old Khamisa lives with her daughter and her daughter’s children. The two women can barely manage the family's daily needs, so what will happen now that illness joins their daily struggle to survive.
“Conflict increased our suffering as women as we did not have any breadwinners, and conflict left us on a new journey of survival, where we had to face our pain and suffering alone,” Khamisa said.
Yemen has long been one of the poorest countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and is now in the midst of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The country is now facing the world's largest food security emergency, with 20 million people – 66 per cent of the country's population - in need of humanitarian aid. Embroiled in conflict since early 2015, fighting has devastated its economy, leading to severe food insecurity and the destruction of critical infrastructure.
Natural disasters have aggravated the crisis; the latest came in the form of tropical cyclone Tej, which made landfall over the southern coast of Al Mahrah Governorate recently, leaving more than 27,000 people internally displaced.
And the ongoing conflict does not mean other chronic ailments take a break. In Khamisa’s case, it came in the form of cancer.
“Before I became ill, we used to devote our time to the daily struggle of providing the basic necessities of life,” she says. “Following that, other challenges surfaced. Permanent fear and anxiety defined my life and my daughter’s, especially because of the difficulty of obtaining money for necessary medical examinations to find out the cause of my illness.”
When even food is not the biggest priority
Khamisa’s case shows us that the daily struggle to find food and drink may not be a priority for some people, as their main priority is getting medicine to stay alive. There are a few places where people can seek help as almost all basic services available in the country have collapsed.
Khamisa and others like her see the cash assistance (offered by Yemen Red Crescent Society in partnership with the IFRC, ICRC and the British Red Cross) as a real lifeline. It gives Khamisa some hope and also helps her get to the hospital quickly, which unfortunately she must do on a regular basis.
Her focus now is on ensuring her own survival to stand by her only daughter. “Our struggle stories never end,” she adds. “Our struggle is not only related to the continuous efforts to provide food and water but also related to dealing with sudden diseases in the absence of the necessary health care and sufficient support.”
The power of choice
39-year-old Ahmed also lives in Khanfar with his sister, and his six children. He was working as a day laborer to provide for his family’s food needs and cover other medical and education requirements. But after Ahmed suffered from a heart disease, conditions began to gradually deteriorate.
After becoming jobless, he spent all his savings trying to make sure his family had enough to eat, but what he saved from this work was not enough to cover his family’s needs. Ahmed told us that there were days when he went to bed hungry to save a little food for their children.
Since the first cash distribution, Ahmed said that he was able to treat his illness and recover his health, and after the second cash distribution, he was able to open a grocery store which is now a permanent source of income.
“I think it is better for aid to be given in cash rather than supplies,” Ahmed said. “The cash I received helped me to recover my health, and at the same time, it saved my source of income.”
His theatre in Yemen destroyed, Osama finds a new stage
For many years, Osama consideredthe theatre his second home,a place where he could embody different characters, share poetic words of wisdom and see the smiles and laughter on the faces of people in his community.
“Every time I appear on the stage and see the smiles of children, I feel satisfied,” says Osama, a gregarious talkative man whose passion for acting has provided some refuge from the scourge and heartaches of war.
But Osama’s ability to pursue this dream suffered a serious blow when his beloved theatrewas bombed and reduced to a pile of rubble.
“My dreams were shattered,” says Osama, standing on the ruins of what was once a spacious, airy theatre, capable of holding hundreds of people. “My dreams were here in this very place,” he says, looking out of a field of broken bricks and stone. “Here, we used to bring smiles to people’s faces … before the war began.”
Most of the theatre pieces his company produced were comedies and dramas that brought happiness and laughterwhile also sharing purposeful messages.
A new humanitarian role
After the theatre was bombed, with the accumulated pain and despair of war weighing on him, Osama started looking for a new role: something that would again bring him joy and help him to rebuild his sense of purpose. His journey led him to the doors of theYemeni Red Crescentin Al Hudaydah.
Now Osamauses his gift for comedy and drama to educate people through interactive theatre sketches. The performances also convey important messages about how to stay healthy and safe in a context where war has shattered many of the basic food, water, health and sanitation systems that keep communities safe and well.
“I remember the first time I participated in an awareness-raising activity with the Yemeni Red Crescent Society,” Osama says . “I was just giving children advice about washing hands, but in a funny way. I remember their laughter at my attempts to correct some of my mistakes.
“One time, I was doing a comedy show to teach, in a comical manner, the right ways to wash hands, but I forgot one of the important ways to rub your fingers. One of the kids got up and hit me over the head in a comedic style and said, ‘The artist forgot to tell us this step.’ He started explaining it like a member of a theatrical troupe. It was the first time I felt I was really helping ordinary people cope with the challenges of war.”
Inspired by the work of the Yemeni Red Crescent in Al Hudaydah, Osama has not only played a role in the Red Crescent’s outreach programmes, but also became an active volunteer in the provision of first aid, food distribution, emergency response, and even the transportation of wounded people and bodies. Alongside all this, the energetic father and husband works various jobs, such as tending trees around the city, to support his family.
Deeper into the role
Osama remembers one situation that pushed him even deeper into his role as a volunteer:a dengue outbreak in Al Hudaydahthat made an already desperate situation in the governorate even worse.
While 20 million Yemeni people lacked access to basic healthcare, half of the country’s health facilities were either partially or completely damaged by war, leading to dramatic increases of endemic diseases and epidemics.
“The dengue epidemic reached our home where I live with 16 members of my family, including four children. It was difficult to access healthcare and even to purchase medicines due to the economic situation. I took my eight-year-old brother Rakan to the Health Centre of the Yemeni Red Crescent Society, hoping he would be cared for at the centre. He was treated there until the staff were certain that he had recovered and was not in danger anymore.
“This kind of assistance was not provided because of my work as a volunteer in the Red Crescent — it is available to all members of the community.The centre provides medical care services to all, and the number of beneficiaries is more than 1,700 people.”
“The moment I arrived at the centre, holding my brother in my arms, was like a dream. I went there as a person in need and was received by a team that helps everyone. I realised after my brother’s recovery that working with the Red Crescent was also an opportunity to give something back, to return the favour, so to speak."
In the meantime, this gregarious, outgoing volunteer can also nurture the stage actor that is always inside him, never far from the surface.
“Even if I cannot appear on stage, I can at least do this for the Yemeni Red Crescent Society as a volunteer and play around for the kids,” Osama says with a smile. “That makes me happy and proud.”
This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this,click here.
| Press release
Crisis fatigue not an option as global hunger crisis deepens, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement warns
Geneva, 13 September 2022 (ICRC/IFRC) – The warning lights are flashing on high: armed conflict, climate-related emergencies, economic hardship and political obstacles are leading to a growing wave of hunger in countries around the world. The misery for millions will deepen without immediate urgent action.
Systems-level improvements must be made to escape a cycle of recurrent crises, including investments in climate-smart food production in conflict-affected areas, and reliable mechanisms to support hard-to-reach communities hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine has greatly disrupted global food supply systems as well as future harvests in many countries due to the impact it’s having on the availability of fertilizer. The importance of more shipments by the Black Sea grain initiative reaching vulnerable populations in East Africa cannot be overstated. Too few grain shipments are getting to where they are needed.
As hunger emergencies hit the headlines, the risk of crisis fatigue is high. Yet what’s uniquely frightening about this moment is the breadth and depth of the needs. More than 140 million people face acute food insecurity due to conflict and instability, even as climate change and economic precarity indicate that hunger needs will rise in the coming months.
Political will and resources are needed now. Without them, many lives will be lost, and the suffering will endure for years. An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises. Concerted action and long-term approaches are the only way to break the cycle.
While addressing urgent needs, it is essential to set the foundation for resilience. More efforts must be made — by governments, private sectors, and humanitarian and development groups — to support long-term food security, livelihoods, and resilience plans.
Measures must include investments in strengthening grassroots food systems and community actors to sustainably achieve food and economic security. One of the approaches to consider is anticipatory action for food security, based on forecasts and risk analysis.
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said:
“Two dozen countries across Africa are grappling with the worst food crisis in decades. Some 22 million people in the Horn of Africa are in the clutches of starvation due to such compounding crises as drought, flooding, COVID-19’s economic effects, conflict – even desert locusts. Behind the staggeringly high numbers are real people – men, women and children battling death-level hunger every day. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023. However, with swift action, many lives can be saved. We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people in dire need of aid, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments.”
The IFRC and its membership—which consists of Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in nearly every corner of the globe—are delivering aid in hard-to-reach communities. Assistance includes getting cash into the hands of families to meet food, health and other urgent needs. In Nigeria, Red Cross volunteers focus on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, whose nutrition is paramount for healthy births and childhoods. In Madagascar, volunteers restore land and water sources through anti-erosion activities, the construction of water points, and a focus on irrigation in addition to traditional ways to fight hunger, like nutrition monitoring.
Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, said:
“Conflict is a huge driver of hunger. We see violence preventing farmers from planting and harvesting. We see sanctions and blockades preventing food delivery to the most vulnerable. My wish is that we build resiliency into the fabric of humanitarian response, so that communities suffer less when violence and climate change upend lives. A cycle of band-aid solutions will not be enough in coming years.”
The ICRC this year has helped nearly 1 million people in south and central Somalia buy a month’s worth of food by distributing cash to more than 150,000 households. A similar programme in Nigeria helped 675,000 people, while more than a quarter million people received climate smart agriculture inputs to restore crop production. The ICRC works to strengthen resilience through seeds, tools and livestock care so that residents can better absorb recurrent shocks. And its medical professionals are running stabilization centres in places like Somalia, where kids are getting specialized nutrition care.
Communities around the world are suffering deep hardship. A short snapshot of some of the regions in need includes:
In Sub-Saharan Africa: One in three children under the age of five is stunted by chronic undernutrition, while two out of five women of childbearing age are anaemic because of poor diets. The majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day.
In Afghanistan: The combination of three decades of armed conflict and an economic crash resulting in few job opportunities and a massive banking crisis are having a devastating effect on Afghan families’ ability to buy food. More than half the country – 24 million – need assistance. The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement welcomes any measure aimed at easing the effect of economic sanctions. But given the depth of the humanitarian crisis, long-term solutions are also needed, including the resumption of projects and investments by states and development agencies in key infrastructure.
In Pakistan: The recent flooding has led to an estimated $12 billion in losses. Food security in the country was alarming before this latest catastrophe, with 43 percent of the population food insecure. Now the number of acutely hungry people is expected to rise substantially. Some 78,000 square kilometers (21 million acres) of crops are under water. An estimated 65 percent of the country’s food basket – crops like rice and wheat– have been destroyed, with over 733,000 livestock reportedly killed. The floods will also negatively affect food delivery into neighboring Afghanistan.
In Somalia: We have seen a five-fold increase in the number of malnourished children needing care. Last month the Bay Regional Hospital in Baidoa admitted 466 children, up from 82 in August 2021. Children admitted here die without the specialized nutritional care they receive.
In Syria: Food insecurity rates have risen more than 50 percent since 2019. Today, two-thirds of Syria’s population –12.4 million out of 18 million – can’t meet their daily food needs. The compounding effects of more than a decade of conflict, including the consequences of sanctions, have crippled people’s buying power. Food prices have risen five-fold in the last two years.
In Yemen: Most Yemenis survive on one meal a day. Last year 53 percent of Yemen’s population were food insecure. This year it’s 63 percent – or some 19 million people. Aid actors have been forced to cut food assistance due to a lack of funds. Some 5 million people will now receive less than 50 percent of their daily nutritional requirement because of it.
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact:
IFRC:Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67
IFRC: Jenelle Eli, [email protected], +41 79 935 97 40
ICRC:Crystal Wells, [email protected], +41 79 642 80 56
ICRC: Jason Straziuso, [email protected], +41 79 949 35 12
Horn of Africa photos and b-roll
Pakistan floods photos and b-roll
Somalia cash programme photos and b-roll
Kenya sees climate shocks b-roll
| Press release
In Yemen, response to deadly floods and critical health care services are key
Beirut / Sanaa /17 August -More than a month after heavy thunderstorms wreaked havoc in Yemen, their effects are still being felt. More than 31,000 households experienced the loss of life or property—in a country where food insecurity was already at an all-time high.
To best understand the needs and work being done, the Head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent’s (IFRC) Delegation in Yemen, Sami Fakhouri paid a 4-day visit to Yemen Red Crescent’s (YRCS) branches and health centres in Hajjah and Saadah.
Fakhouri saluted the outstanding job done by YRCS volunteers and staff—their dedication and hard work despite challenges. Tireless team members are working around the clock to provide primary, secondary, inpatient, and outpatient care entirely free of charge at 23 Yemen Red Crescent health centres throughout Yemen in addition to acute flood response.
During the visit earlier last week, Fakhouri was briefed on the urgent needs and the ways in which Red Crescent teams are alleviating the suffering of local communities. He said: “IFRC will continue to support the Yemen Red Crescent in health, disaster management, water, sanitation, and hygiene and National Society Development, by providing technical and financial support.”
On July 30, IFRC released more than CHF 452.000 from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Yemen Red Crescent’s response, which includes providing families impacted by the floods with food, hygiene, and household items, shelter kits, and water and sanitation services.
In turn, Abdullah Al Azab, YRCS Disaster Management Coordinator said: “We need to be ready to support the population rendered more vulnerable by these natural catastrophes, in addition to the difficulties they are already experiencing in a country in war, and despite massive challenges, the Yemen Red Crescent tries to provide a fast life-saving response to victims of natural disasters in all governorates".
Fakhouri concluded that IFRC in collaboration with The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and partner National Societies will continue to advocate with local and international authorities to remind stakeholders of the immense humanitarian needs of the Yemeni populations, not to forget supporting Yemen and its people, and to enhance the coordinated InternationalRed Cross and Red Crescent Movement response in the country.
For more information, contact:
In Beirut, IFRC-MENA: Mey Al Sayegh, +961 03229352, [email protected]
In Yemen -YRCS: Nesreen Ahmed, +967 775322644, [email protected]
| Press release
Yemen: As global food insecurity crisis escalates, hope shrinks for millions already suffering from extreme hunger
Beirut / Sanaa / Aden, 8 July 2022 – As we face an unprecedented global hunger crisis, concerns for the 16.2 million people who have long been food insecure in Yemen are at an all-time high. While the crisis in Yemen is one of the most dire, brought on by protracted conflict, droughts, and floods intensified by the climate crisis, COVID-19, and other diseases, it has failed to attract adequate support from donors for years. Now it risks slipping further into oblivion.
IFRC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, made a field visit to Sanaa, Aden, Amran, and Lahj this week, where he witnessed first-hand the immense unmet needs for nutritional supplements and medicine, and the many cases of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
“I’m extremely heartbroken at the devastating level of hunger and severe malnutrition of babies, children, and women in Yemen,” he said. “As I looked in the eyes of those suffering mothers and children, I was at a loss for words This is plain wrong and unnecessary suffering for innocent civilians.”
There are already massive gaps in funding the humanitarian response for the 20.7 million people in need of assistance in Yemen, including clean water and healthcare as well as food and nutrition. Now, as the conflict in Ukraine pushes up the prices of food, fertilizer and fuel, the situation is likely to worsen. Meanwhile, the rapidly increasing needs of people around the world will also spread humanitarian resources even thinner.
Currently, the IFRC delegation in Yemen provides financial, material, and technical support to the Yemen Red Crescent (YRCS) in Disaster Preparedness and Management, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Health, and National Society Development.
Dr. Elsharkawi met with YRCS leadership and volunteers as well as Yemeni officials around Sanaa, Aden, and Lahj to discuss the humanitarian response gaps as well as the programmes supported by the IFRC.
He saluted the extraordinary efforts of the thousands of dedicated staff and volunteers of the Yemen Red Crescent:
“These men and women are working tirelessly on the front lines to support the people in need and to preserve their dignity despite the complex situation. But our moral responsibility demands more urgent action to save lives now. The international community and donors must immediately scale up support to address the widespread hunger and malnutrition.”
Key figures on Yemen for editors: (Based on the 2022 HNO analysis)
23.4 million people are estimated to need humanitarian assistance in 2022,12.9 million of whom were estimated to be in acute need.
19 million people are food insecure.
17.8 million people lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation services
An estimated 21.9 million people lack access to basic healthcare.
An estimated 4.3 million people have fled their homes since the start of the conflict, including approximately 3.3 million people who remain displaced, and 1 million returnees.
To schedule an interview or for further information:
In Beirut, IFRC-MENA: Mey Al Sayegh, +961 03229352, [email protected]
In Yemen -YRCS: Nesreen Ahmed, +967 775322644, [email protected]
Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2022
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty The Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 17 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways.
The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, over 14 million Swiss francs have been allocated to 170 National Societies.
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insight that will benefit the Movement as a whole. An innovation campaign was launched in December 2021 to further increase awareness of the Fund and what it stands for.
The campaign resulted in 52 proposals being submitted versus only 28 in 2021, and more innovative proposals compared to previous years, further strengthening the Fund’s positioning as supporting innovation.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is shown by the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of the death of Her Majesty Empress Shôken.
The selection process
The Fund received 52 applications in 2022, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 471,712 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jordan, Libya, Mongolia, Niger, Portugal, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Yemen.
The projects to be supported in 2022 cover a number of themes, including first aid and rescue, support for young people, disaster preparedness, health, social welfare and National Society development. The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate new insight and learning that will benefit the Movement as a whole. Reports from the National Societies whose projects were funded and implemented in 2020 generated insights in the areas listed below.
Top 10 key learnings from project implemented in 2020
Adaptability and agility
Taking a pilot approach
The 2022 grants
The Burkinabe Red Cross Society plans to strengthen psychosocial care and the capacities of community volunteers and first-aiders in communities affected by the crisis. The grant will allow the National Society to assist victims of attacks by armed groups in areas where security is a challenge.
In 2017, over 43.8% of Ivorians were illiterate, and the disparities between men and women and by places of residence were enormous. The Red Cross Society of Côte d’Ivoire will use the grant to help improve the education and increase the autonomy of young women in the Bounkani Region who have not attended school.
The Croatian Red Cross will use the grant funds to spread awareness of the humanitarian ideals and educate children from an early age, through the Humanity Corner.
The Dominica Red Cross Society will provide support for and help introduce farming techniques and other solutions for managing climate change and other risks. The funds will be used to train 15 farmers as Agri First Responders in their community.
The Dominican Red Cross will help build young people’s capacity to carry out local social support activities. The grant will be used to develop a virtual introductory course on planning and coordinating social support activities that is adapted to the young people’s local reality, so that they are equipped with the techniques and tools to address the needs of their community.
The Ecuadorean Red Cross aims to identify and provide primary care for the negative feelings and emotions in young people from age 15 to 30 years in the city of Quito. The grant funds will provide immersion technologies to addresses the heightened need in the community owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jordan National Red Crescent Society has recognized young people and volunteers as the beating heart of the National Society, especially during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which they served local communities across the country, when mobility was restricted. This grant will help them improve the management system for recruiting, developing, promoting and retaining volunteers to support humanitarian operations.
Libya is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, given its arid climate. This grant will help the Libyan Red Crescent raise awareness of the risks associated with climate change and highlight personal behaviours that could help mitigate these risks for communities.
The Mongolian Red Cross Society wants to use digital communication tools funded by the grant in order to help ensure there is meaningful community participation across all programmes and operations, improve its public relations management and strengthen its transparency and accountability to communities.
In the event of an accident, smartphones can provide information that is essential for providing effective first aid. Thanks to the grant, the Red Cross Society of Niger will educate and inform the public about how to store useful information in the “emergency call” section of their phones.
The Portuguese Red Cross will address young people's social exclusion and the lack of space and opportunities to develop relevant skills and digital literacy, through the Platforms of Change, funded by the grant.
Through the “Their life is in your hands” digital marketing campaign, funded by the grant, the Red Cross of Serbia will raise the general public’s awareness of the value of CPR skills and AED use and provide the related training.
The Republic of Korea National Red Cross will focus on supporting disaster risk reduction in many countries in the Asia Pacific Region. The grant will fund development of virtual reality training content by the Asia Pacific Disaster Resilience Centre, provide sets of virtual reality devices to seven National Societies and provide virtual reality training on disaster risk reduction.
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is aiming for better nutrition and improved water, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities that are drought-prone. The grant will introduce groundwater recharging practices into the catchment and tank ecosystem areas, to facilitate groundwater retention.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, communities face challenges in gaining access to reliable, up-to-date information and in overcoming the rumours, myths and misconceptions around the vaccine. Supported by the grant, the Tanzania Red Cross Society will develop a mobile application, “UJANJA KUCHANJA”, to enhance information-sharing, build trust and increase information access and reach.
In a mountainous district of Yemen, frequent rockslides often injure people and domestic animals, disrupt transport networks and cut people off from their livelihood activities. Thanks to the grant, the Yemen Red Crescent Society will take measures to prevent rockslides and help reduce the number of victims and the damage caused.
| Press release
Launch of ambitious partnership between IFRC and EU: a new model for the humanitarian sector
Brussels/Geneva, 30 March 2022 - An ambitious partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) launched today aims to be a new model for the humanitarian sector.
In response to the increasing number of crises arising worldwide, the pilot Programmatic Partnership “Accelerating Local Action in Humanitarian and Health Crises” aims to support local action in addressing humanitarian and health crises across at least 25 countries with a multi-year EU funding allocation.
The partnership strengthens mutual strategic priorities and is built around five pillars of intervention: disaster preparedness/risk management; epidemic and pandemic preparedness and response; humanitarian assistance and protection to people on the move; cash and voucher assistance; risk communication, community engagement and accountability.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said:
“I welcome with great hope the Pilot Programmatic Partnership with IFRC, a trusted EU partner who shares our vision of implementing efficient and effective humanitarian aid operations worldwide. The funding allocated for this partnership reaffirms the EU commitment to help meet the growing needs of vulnerable people across some 25 countries, in close cooperation with the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies. It also confirms our commitment to strategic partnerships with humanitarian aid organizations.”
IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said:
“Longer-term, strategic partnerships are essential to respond to the escalation of humanitarian crises around the world. We must respond rapidly, we must respond at scale, and we must modernize our approach to make impact. We know that the most effective and sustainable humanitarian support is that which is locally led, puts communities at the heart of the action, and is resourced through flexible, long-term and predictable partnership. The pilot Programmatic Partnership allows exactly that.”
The Programme will begin with an inception phase in several countries in Latin America, West and Central Africa and Yemen. The main objective is to provide essential assistance to those currently affected by humanitarian crises, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters and conflict and to prevent loss of lives and suffering. Investment is also made to ensure communities are better prepared to cope with disasters through the implementation of disaster preparedness and risk reduction components.
Working closely with its National Societies, the IFRC’s global reach combined with local action, its long history of community-driven humanitarian work and its Fundamental Principles, make it the partner of choice for this Pilot Programmatic Partnership with the EU.
Following the first phase of implementation, the Programme aims to expand its reach and include additional countries around the world with the support of more EU National Societies.
The 10 countries of implementation in the inception phase are: Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Yemen, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.
The seven National Societies from the EU working to support the implementation of the inception phase are: Belgian Red Cross (FR), Danish Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Italian Red Cross, Luxembourg Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross.
For more information
In Brussels: Federica Cuccia, Federica.CUCC[email protected]
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, [email protected], +41 79 895 6924
Programmatic Partnership / IFRC
The Programmatic Partnership is an innovative and ambitious three-year partnership between the IFRC, many of our member National Societies, and the European Union. Together, we support communities worldwide to reduce their risks and be better prepared for disasters and health emergencies.
| Press release
Red Cross Red Crescent reaching 1.5 million people on the move in MENA, yet millions are left without support
Beirut, 16 December 2021 – Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the number of people on the move left without essential support is colossal, a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found.
Ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the IFRC is calling for a stronger commitment to support people on the move during their journey, not only once they have managed to reach their planned destination – if they ever do.
Fabrizio Anzolini, Migration Regional Advisor for IFRC MENA, said:
“Countless migrants face inhumane conditions along their way, including violence, lack of food, shelter and access to health services. Climate change and conflicts are only expected to accelerate the number of people migrating out of the region in the coming months and years. We need to act right now on the routes and advocating for durable solutions.”
The region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced people, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regional hotspots include the population movement from Afghanistan to Iran, the migration flows from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya to Europe, the extensive number of internally displaced persons in Syria, as well as the route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Rania Ahmed, IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, said:
“Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants and displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa, but it is not enough. We need bigger investment and greater long-term commitment to address their plight. We need to mobilize all efforts and resources to ensure people on the move receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants and displaced populations are intensely vulnerable and must be included in COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery plans. We urge governments to ensure that people on the move have equal access to vaccinations, health care and basic services.”
With the engagement of the IFRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the MENA region are on the frontline attempting to cover the enormous gap between people’s needs and the support that is available for them. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide multidisciplinary assistance, including health services, livelihood support, protection for children and victims of violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance. These support services are also widely available to host communities, leaving no one behind.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remain committed to continue responding to the needs of migrants and displaced people as well as advocating for the support that they need at country, regional and global levels through evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy. However, their continued activities are hampered by shrinking funding. In addition, access to migrants is often limited, especially in conflict zones and due to restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can access the full report here: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Activities on Migration and Displacement – Snapshot 2021. The survey includes responses from twelve Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Geneva: Rana Sidani Cassou, +41 766715751 / +33 675945515, [email protected]
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, +961 70372812 / +358 504667831, [email protected]
Yemen Red Crescent Society
A pandemic reminds us why health care professionals are so valuable
Each nurse and midwife who joined the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has a different story, but they share a common passion: to care for those in need.
“I have a big heart that prompts me to engage in humanitarian work in all sectors, whether in times of peace, war, or natural disasters,” said Etidal Abdo Nasser Al-Qabati, a Yemeni nurse and midwife who has specialized in practical nursing and midwifery for three years and studied for four years to become a paramedic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. This year, according to WHO, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
‘’I started to volunteer for humanitarian work, with the Yemeni Red Crescent, in 1973, and fell in love with nursing and helping others,’’ said Etidal, who is known as ‘Mama Etidal.’ “My biggest pain is knowing that we can conduct rescue missions but lack the necessary resources.”
Etidal started as a @YemenCrescent volunteer, now she is a professional nurse and midwife: “My long experience and big heart prompt me to humanitarian work.” She is the one who protects the dignity of mothers and women during the most difficult times. #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/5pnQXElVtf
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 6, 2020
Lebanese midwife Pascale Rizk, joined the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2017 and chose this profession ‘’because it is amongst the most noble professions in the world”.
‘’The relationship that the certified midwife builds with the couple is outstandingly beautiful. Indeed, she witnesses the couple’s greatest moment of joy. And the most sacred event of their lifetime, i.e. the arrival of their newborn.’’
According to Pascale, midwifery and nursing are misperceived by society. ‘’Honestly, when people used to ask me what I did for a living, I would answer by saying ‘a certified midwife,’ and the first response that I would get was: ‘Oh, so you’re a doula?’ People don’t realize that certified midwives are one of the pillars of the medical sector. ‘’
Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services and are often the first and only points of care in their communities. Nurses in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have long been at the frontlines, in war, natural disasters and in combating major diseases like Ebola, SARS, coronaviruses and lately COVID-19, often putting their lives at risk.
"The core of our work is saving other people's lives," says Pascale, a #midwife at @ICRC_lb.#Midwives reduce suffering and protect the dignity of mothers and women during the most difficult times: war, disasters and disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/DH7Gelr6FC
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 8, 2020
Muhsin Ghalib, an Iraqi Red Crescent nursing officer, has chosen the nursing profession because it is a vocation that helps preserve human rights. Ghalib narrates an unforgettable experience where he witnessed the death of a young man who was helping his father at the hospital. “I can never forget this experience, because the father was the one who was sick, but ended up staying alive. Whereas his son, who was perfectly healthy, passed away just like that.’’
Today, health care workers need #solidarity, not #stigma. Thank them and show them your support every day. By doing this, you help yourself and others to stay safe.
Think what would happen if we don’t have enough #nurses and #midwives#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife @iraqircs pic.twitter.com/EDsgGKU364
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 5, 2020
It is pivotal to create and respect a humanitarian space in order to allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and health workers to care for people in need and alleviate human suffering among the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach communities.
Health workers who dedicate themselves to saving lives deserve society’s respect. They must not be prevented from reaching those in need.
Nurses and midwives have devoted their lives to saving and caring for others. In return, we should protect, respect, recognize and give thanks nurses, midwives and all health workers at all times.
Elias from @YemenCrescent was granted a #FlorenceNightingale medal – the highest award one can get in #HealthCareSector.#Midwives and #nurses are needed today more than ever before, and they must be appreciated by everyone. Thank you for what you do! #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/jUHiflcwj7
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 4, 2020
Awareness campaigns and busting rumors about COVID-19 in Yemen
Randa El Ozeir: A group of people on the street flinched showing signs of apprehension and repulsion. They are Yemenis living in a remote area where volunteers, from the Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS) in their protective masks, put informative posters as part of a comprehensive awareness campaign about COVID-19. The group of people was scared to contract the “disease” from these masked individuals. Little by little, the group of people bombarded the volunteers with questions, and their eyes brightened with an “aha moment!” when they learned the answers.
Once again, it becomes clear how local actors and volunteers play an invaluable role in communities they know like the back of their hands. They speak the language, are familiar with the traditions, and recognize the prevailing mindset. Zamzam Saleh Saed Jaeem, the Deputy Communications manager in YRC’s Dhamar Branch, said, “There were rumors that made some people flinch when they saw us wearing masks, as if we were sick and contagious! But we stood our ground and persevered in identifying for them the wrong practices and correcting their misinformation, so they ended up helping us to put up the posters!”.
In Yemen, a country affected by war for over five years, the YRCS has been one of the few humanitarian organizations to freely continue executing its activities and missions all over the country doing what they most excel at: humanitarian support for communities affected by conflict and natural disasters, medical services especially for women and children, nutrition aids, prevention campaigns to tackle the risks of diseases as cholera and malaria, and lately, societal awareness through field campaigns around the country’s 22 governorates to stave off the dangers of COVID-19. These campaigns are implemented by the Heads of Communications in the YRC’s Branches, accompanied by the ambulance drivers and 44 volunteers, through posters and by playing recorded messages with preventive measures.
Nisrine Ahmed, the YRC’s Media Officer, said, “Before setting out to implement an activity, a coordination with all authorities in the country has to be done to commence a field awareness campaign directly with the people as to bridge the gap in all rugged locations. The geographical nature, ranging from mountains to deserts, coasts, and frontiers, has been aggravated by the poor phone and internet coverage and the unreliable electricity and made these places unattainable. Ultimately, the coordination to carry out the activity becomes centralized with the local authority at the governorate level”.
In an innovative way revealing a deep understanding of the local environment, the YRCS worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross to produce audio flashes containing simplified awareness messages people can incorporate into their daily lives to smoothly change their behaviours. Some of these messages promote “using hand sanitizers”, “protecting your own food during COVID-19”, “how to keep yourself and your family safe”, “how to protect yourself and others”, “what to do when you start having symptoms”, and “when to wear a mask”.
Nisrine Ahmed explained how the messages are being delivered via portable loudspeakers on ambulances that roam the districts and neighbourhoods of secluded areas within each governorate. “We are distributing in 10 communities the flyers and posters consisting of crucial info about COVID-19, its transmission, and the ways to prevent it”.
The YRC focuses on 440 areas across Yemen but does not go door-to-door. The awareness messages are broadcasted on loudspeakers and disseminated by posters. Only when faced with specific inquires, the Heads of Communications in the YRC’s Branches explain the content about COVID-19 face-to-face. “Those volunteers train yearly on communication skills, community activities, and media on the ground to perform their communication duties within the Branches, but also they have been trained by health staff on COVID prevention and on frequently asked questions. They are competent enough to spread awareness, achieve media documentation, and do live interviews. We carry these awareness campaigns in coordination with the Danish Red Cross (DRC), the German Red Cross (GRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRD), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)”.
“While they need the bare necessities for a normal life, it’s hard to ask people to stay home and stick to the recommended safety measures to prevent COVID-19”, said Jaeem adding, “people don’t have money to buy a mask or gloves to use when they go outside. We encountered a tuned-out society when we first started. We were met with obstacles to persuade the population and change their ideas about the virus. We raised the level of awareness among people and helped them. And we consider this to be an accomplishment in and of itself”.
“As usual, we see the YRCS present and giving the most important info that helped us to correct some of the misconceptions about COVID-19. Our situation is dire, and we need protective equipment that we cannot buy. We don’t have water, and when we have it, it can barely suffice for drinking, so how should we can be careful to wash our hands regularly?”, asked Ahmed, a resident of a remote area, and called on everyone to provide the required aids along with spreading awareness about the virus.
The Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS) is an independent voluntary relief organization. It was founded half a century ago, in 1968, for humanitarian purposes. YRCS works as an aid organization in the domains of humanitarian services across the country, and practices its activities according to the Yemeni Constitution, Geneva Conventions, and the basic principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement that YRCS performs its activities as part of them.
Yemen’s healthcare system on the brink of collapse
Text and photos: Julie Lorenzen, Danish Red Cross
His brown eyes look tired – almost absent – and the skin is way too pale. He speaks with a voice that is difficult to hear.
Nine-year-old Luai and his mother are visiting a primary health clinic, run by Yemen Red Crescent Society in Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
Luai has been sick for a while with a fever that shows no sign of abating.
“His body is weak. He was fine, when he was little, but then his body started to weaken. I am worried, he cannot fight diseases,” says his mother Fatima.
Doctor Anisha examines the little boy and it does not take her long to conclude that he is malnourished and has anemia. There is also a risk that Luai is suffering from internal parasites, a condition common in many Yemeni children.
Doctor Anisha prescribes iron and multivitamins. That is all she can do.
But this visit to the clinic is a short-term solution. When Luai goes home, his parents can only afford to buy rice and bread because of the sky rocketing food prices in Sanaa. Vegetables are a luxury the family can only afford once a month - like so many other Yemeni families who suffer from the impacts of the 5-year long conflict.
Lack of medicine and doctors
According to doctor Anisha who has worked in the clinic for 17 years, Luai’s story is sadly familiar.
“Five years ago, we did not see many cases of malnutrition”, she says.
“But now there are cases in all health clinics around the country. I am worried because it affects their ability to learn in school. We only see the mild cases in this clinic.”
Doctor Anisha also sees many malnourished pregnant women which can lead to complications like low birth weight and premature births.
According to UN OCHA 3,2 million women and children in Yemen are acutely malnourished - the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition has increased by 90% in the last three years.
And it is not only malnutrition the children suffer from.
“We see that diseases like measles, diphtheria and chicken pox have returned. They were not present before the conflict,” says doctor Anisha.
She used to vaccinate the children, but the clinic can no longer provide this vital service. The vaccinations need to be stored in a cold place, but because of the lack of electricity and fuel, this is no longer an option.
It is the same story with the X-ray machine which has not been working since the beginning of the conflict. And the ultrasound scanner has been silent for the last year, since the clinic cannot afford to pay salary to an ultrasound doctor who can operate it.
Doctor Anisha is the only doctor to help the approximately 40 patients who come to the clinic every day.
“We need more doctors and nurses in the clinic,” she says, adding:
“And we need medicine to treat patients with hypertension and diabetes. We can check their blood pressure and blood sugar, but we cannot give them medicine. Medicine is the most important.”
The clinic has a laboratory, but currently they cannot carry out liver, kidney and cholesterol tests because of lack of equipment. Today it is free for the patients to get tests done in the laboratory, but in the future, the clinic might be forced to demand payment.
It is not going to be easy for the patients.
“Our patients are poor,” says doctor Anisha.
Stay and risk your own life
Many doctors and nurses have fled from the conflict in Yemen. But not Doctor Anisha.
“The future is horrible. If you stay here, you are killing yourself. But I stay and do my best. I cannot leave my patients here. I would feel bad, if they came and asked for me, and I wasn’t there.”
“We help people the best we can.”
According to UN OCHA an estimated 19.7 million people in Yemen lack access to basic healthcare.
But only 51% of the health facilities are functioning.
The Yemen Red Crescent Society currently runs 22 health facilities around the country.
| Press release
Amidst escalating crises, Middle East humanitarian leaders meet to chart new course
Baghdad, 18 April 2018 – Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa gather today in Baghdad to discuss the region’s escalating humanitarian crises.
More than 140 attendees, including representatives from 16 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, will attend the conference to explore a range of issues, including the shrinking of neutral and impartial humanitarian space, and the rising vulnerabilities of millions of migrants.
“The Iraqi Red Crescent Society is pleased to welcome our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners to plan our collective strategy for the next decade,” said Dr Yassin, the President of the Iraqi Red Crescent.
“Only together, standing by our humanitarian principles, and advocating for protected humanitarian space, can we alleviate the suffering of millions of vulnerable people in our region.”
The Middle East and North Africa region is home to the world’s most pronounced humanitarian crises. The conflict in Syria, now in its seventh year, has left 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. In Iraq itself, 15 years of conflict and economic stagnation have left more than 8.5 million people relying on humanitarian relief. In Yemen, more than 80 per cent of the population is in need of aid today – 3.4 million people more than one year ago – after conflict devastated the health system and other essential infrastructure. Only 45 per cent of Yemen’s health facilities are currently functioning. In Libya, 9 per cent of the country’s estimated one million migrants are minors, and 40 per cent of these are unaccompanied. These crises are happening in parallel to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Palestine.
The region’s conflicts are defined by growing disregard for humanitarian laws and norms. Civilians are increasingly bearing the brunt of the fighting, and aid agencies are finding it more and more difficult to access communities in need. As a further consequence, an estimated 35 million people have been displaced from their homes across the Middle East and North Africa, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Mr Francesco Rocca, the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “Across the region and around the world, these people – who have fled their homes because of war or violence – struggle to access the services and support they need to survive. Even worse, they are increasingly falling victim to policies and laws that prioritize border control over humanity and dignity.
“All people migrating, regardless of their status, must have access to humanitarian protection and assistance. Human rights are migrant rights.”
During the conference, the Iraqi Red Crescent will nominate renowned artist Naseer Shamma as a Good Will Ambassador, in recognition of this efforts to help Iraqis affected by the conflict.
At the end of the two-day conference, participants will aim to adopt the Baghdad Declaration, which will address a range of humanitarian issues and underline the importance of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in bringing hope and support to vulnerable communities.
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.
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